Pet ownership is a great experience and children especially enjoy close relationships with their pets whilst learning to love, respect and care for them. With 80% of Australian households owning a pet, it’s extremely important to ensure that we not only teach our children to be responsible pet owners but we also educate them on how to behave safely around animals.
It has been estimated that more than 100,000 Australians are attacked by dogs each year and that over 60% of these dog attacks occur either in the family home or in the home or backyard of a family member or friend. With better education, obedience training and “knowing the warning signs” many dog bites can be prevented.
Children should never be left alone with a dog regardless of how much your “trust” your pet. Even the friendliest dog may bite if annoyed, frightened or hurt. If you can’t supervise the interaction, separate them until you can give them your full attention.
During interactions it’s important to observe your pet closely. If any of the following occurs remove your child from the situation and give your pet some space:
Treat animals gently and calmly. Never hurt, tease, frighten, surprise or corner an animal. Never enter a strange dog’s yard without the owner being present.
If your child is approached by an unknown dog, teach your child to stand still and quiet with their hands by their sides and fingers curled up (like a post) and to avoid eye contact even if the dog smells them.
If your child is knocked down by a dog, teach your child to curl up like a rock on the ground and use their arms to cover their head. Keep their eyes to the ground and stay as still and as quiet as possible.
If the worse happens and your child does get bitten, it’s important to act quickly. Restrain or confine the dog immediately, if possible ensure that the bite is washed thoroughly with disinfectant and water and seek immediate medical attention.